Saturday, January 25, 2014

Visits to Cranbrook, BC

Visits to Cranbrook

I have many a great memory of times I spent in Cranbrook. We used to go there to visit my grandparents every summer, usually on the way back from Kim’s place, and many Christmases. These times may be mixed up as I don’t remember how old I was for many of these events.
My grandparents had bought a property just outside of Cranbrook with many acres of forest land. They built their home there and a large shed/garage area. I remember Alvin and me helping out with this project and watching everyone building them. Later they would add a cabin for guests as well as a small enclosure and shed for chickens.
There were times when our cousins Jen and Tim would come to visit at the same time, and later our much younger cousins Tessa and Mason, when they returned from living in Bermuda. We would wander the property exploring every inch together. We had a lot of fun in those times, but I don’t recall these times in great detail. We have some photos of these times that I would show you, but I don’t have any of these pictures on my computer. They also had a large family reunion one summer. They set up trails for everyone to go hiking on, including maps so people didn’t get lost. We had a lot of singing and performances, as well as a bunch of awesome food. The adults set up a piƱata for the kids. We met one cousin that Tim and I got along great with. We went down many trails with him and showed him our favorite spots, playing a game of war at the same time. Someone also had a half-wolf dog that kept tying to attack the other dogs at the reunion, including Mandy’s toy poodle.
While there, we would often catch crickets or toads and put them in homemade aquariums. Usually this resulted in some deaths and stench, but it was fun to catch them. Birds would constantly be crashing into grandma’s clean windows. One of these times it snapped a bird’s neck, and so we put it onto our bike and tried to “help it” to fly again. In the end it died and we had a small funeral for it, burying it near the house. There was also lots of deer and elk wandering around their property, which they fed in an area visible from the kitchen window. This made for many great photo and video sessions for grandma.
We had fires almost every night in the summers when we were there. We would sit out there and watch bats and nighthawks flit about through the air. We roasted many a marshmallow. We would usually end up drinking a lot of pop during our times there and would eat a lot of ice cream sundaes, as grandma usually kept great toppers around. We also loved that grandpa always had chips around, as well as tomato juice to make us virgin Caesars, to this day Alvin and I both like our Caesars. They also had a large satellite dish in the back that kept us in supply of many great channels, which was far better than the farmer vision we had back home (two channels). We especially loved watching shows on TV Land. Shows like Gunsmoke, Mannix, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, Batman, and the Green Hornet. Then every afternoon we would sit with grandpa and watch MASH, after his show grandpa would always take a nap and we would go outside as we didn’t dare wake him.
One summer I recall Alvin and me playing tag in the backyard. We had had a fire in the fire pit the night before and I didn’t realize that the pit would still be hot. The result of this was my running through the fire pit, which we had been told not to play around, and I ended up with large blisters on the bottoms of my feet. For the rest of the day I sat around with my feet in buckets of water. It was at this time that we had one of our many outdoor BBQs there. I remember loving these BBQs. We spent many an evening in the hot tub that my grandparents had there. Us cousins would hang out in there, and when Alvin and I were there by ourselves we would go in there. We loved hanging out in the hot tub
There was also a summer where I actually got the better Alvin in a fight, which didn’t happen very often. It was through an extremely cheap tactic called the nutcracker. I knocked him off his feet with a swift kick where it hurts most. Grandma fake cried to make us feel terrible about our fight, and I ended up in a great deal of trouble. Apparently she tried fake crying for us a few times, as we were usually fighting over something. Alvin and I did enjoy bike riding while at their property, which kept some of the fights from happening. We would ride down every trail and loved hills especially. One hill we really loved was the one right behind their house. The trail led between their shed and the house. We would go up the one side of the house and go flying down the trail on the other side. We could pick up great speed, we really flew. One bike trail I have a bad memory of though. We came up to this hill and stopped, preparing ourselves for the turn it had in the center which was really fun to whiz around at full speed. One time going down this hill though my feet slipped off the pedals, and when I hit that curve I was not only afraid, but I was not in control. I was going full tilt when I hit the curve and flew off the trail. After crashing through a few branches I was finally knocked off my bike by a low hanging branch that clipped me on the forehead. I had scratches and cuts from head-to-toe. Alvin and I headed back to the house, me bawling all the way. I limped into the house and grandma took me into their bathroom to patch me up. Lots of hydrogen peroxide and band-aids were used in this process, but I clearly survived and learned to be more careful going down hills on my bike. We didn’t stop going down hills after that, as it was still too much fun to feel the excitement of high speeds. We also used to hang out beside an old mine shaft that is on their property, as it was cool to think of all the miners at work in there.
Grandpa always went logging to find wood for their wood burning furnace. I hated these trips with a passion as I am not into that kind of work. I do recall Alvin loving these trips though, and he went on them more than I did. On one trip a friend of grandpa’s dared me to eat a big old wood ant, saying he would give me five dollars for eating it. I picked up an ant and stuck it into my mouth. It bit my tongue before I could chomp its head off and it hung on for dear life, until I ended it with my teeth. Everyone laughed at the ant hanging there from my tongue and at my discomfort. I had accomplished my dare though and was very mad when the guy refused to give me my five dollars for eating the ant. I also recall that my first sip of beer came from my grandpa. It was shortly after they had moved to Cranbrook and he was with a couple of his buddies drinking. I asked him for a sip and he gave me one. Apparently my face went funny as he and his buddies all laughed at me. He told me that yeah it was gross that’s why you should never drink it. Of course I have tried it since and am still not a fan of beer.
I always preferred to hang out with grandma during these times. Grandma is someone I love dearly, she means a lot to me. We would often cook fresh raisin bread, or work on supper. I have always liked cooking, and experimenting with seasonings, grandma’s kitchen is one of the reasons for this. The fresh raisin bread with butter, honey and bananas on a sandwich was the absolute best, it was to die for. We would also clean the house. A part of hanging with grandma that I still enjoy to this day is the games we played together. We loved to play crokinole, cribbage, rummy, as well as a few other cards games. She taught me these games and I would end up playing them and learning more from playing them with my dad. Our games could go on for a long time with no clear winner. I recall playing against my dad and we played for hours before calling it a draw. 
We had to get water with them from a mountain spring as their water was too mineral filled to drink a lot of. These trips were fun as well. We would get to the see the occasional bear and cougar while collecting water. Grandpa would also have to drive down the highway to pick up the mail, and we enjoyed hopping in his Tracker to get the mail, as he would usually have Certs or Life Savers in his Tracker. He also had his radar detector as he never wore his seatbelt and wanted warning as to when to put it on. It would go off for every semi that went by, and he would still end up with the occasional ticket for not wearing his seatbelt.
There were several fishing trips that we took out to Cherry Lake in the summers as well. We’d go out in the little boat to spend the day on the lake. When we got home it was always a fish fry. So tasty!
Christmases here were always a pleasure. We always had a lot of food and it was great to see cousins, aunts, and uncles that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Stockings were always a unique mesh of everyone’s ideas of great stocking stuffers. It would be a time when you would catch up on everything you had missed in everyone’s lives and see how much your cousins had grown since you saw them last. Then we’d celebrate all the December birthdays as there were several. 
One summer after I married Karen, we went down for a week of the summer. This was a good time. We saw a bunch of aunts and uncles, cousins, and Jen’s kids as well. We went swimming at a nearby lake which was really fun. We also sat around catching up and reminiscing.    

Grandpa would eventually be diagnosed with cancer. It was tough seeing him deteriorate and I can only imagine how this hurt my grandmother. A couple summers ago cancer took him away from us. This was hard, especially since my health was and still is poor, which resulted in my not being able to carry his casket like I had been asked to do. 

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